The first fully civilian space mission is ready to take off

The first fully civilian space mission is ready to take off

The first fully civilian space mission is ready to take off

The Inspiration4 crew: Dr. Sian Proctor (top), Jared Isaacman (bottom) Christopher Sembroski and Hayley Arceneaux.
EFE / Inspiration4 / John Kraus

The first fully civilian space mission, Inspiration4, is about to take off in a SpaceX Dragon capsule this Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (USA). With an 80% probability of having favorable weather conditions, the weather seems to contribute its part in the face of the planned launch starting at 20:02 this Wednesday (00.02 GMT on Thursday, September 16) of the Falcon 9 rocket, on which it will go assembled the Dragon capsule, both from the private firm SpaceX, responsible for this three-day mission and in which NASA will be a mere spectator.

A businessman, an engineer, a medical assistant and a science educator will go aboard the capsule, which, on its orbital journey, will reach a height of almost 575 kilometers, more than the International Space Station (ISS) and the space telescope. Hubble.

Benji Reed, director of manned missions at SpaceX, acknowledged today that he gets “goose bumps” when observing the speed with which the mission was organized and prepared, for which its four crew members have been vaccinated against covid-19 and prevention protocols have been respected.

At a speed of about 28,160 kilometers per hour, the capsule will circle the planet every 90 minutes, in what is a journey of greater scope than those recently made by millionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. On board the ships of their respective private space companies, both made suborbital travel at a speed three times the speed of sound that allowed them to experience weightlessness for a few minutes.

In Inspiration4, the only billionaire is Commander Jared Isaacman, 38, founder and president of the firm Shift4 Payments, lover of aviation and who financed the space voyage of the other three crew members, at a cost that has not been disclosed. With him will travel Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a cancer survivor and physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, who will be the youngest person to fly into orbital space, university professor Sian Proctor and aerospace engineer and veteran of Air Force Chris Sembroski. “I am going to be the first black female pilot of a spaceship,” Proctor said at a news conference this afternoon, in which she said it is an “honor” for her to hold the title. She added that today she had a pleasant conversation with former US First Lady Michelle Obama, a woman who, she said, inspires her. “Since the announcement, the last time we were here, each day has been the best day of my life and it is only getting better,” added the teacher.

Training months

The crew members are civilians who have received training for about six months at SpaceX’s base in Hawthorne, California, which included maneuvers in zero gravity and exercises with the gravitational forces they will experience in space. Civilians have been prepared for emergencies, spacecraft and spacesuit entry and exit exercises, as well as partial and full mission simulations.

Isaacman said that on Tuesday they held a meeting with the president and founder of the firm, Elon Musk, who assured them that “the entire management team (of SpaceX) is focused solely on this mission.”

Dragon will have a “widely tested and flight-rated” observation dome, according to SpaceX, which promises unimaginable 360-degree views. Reed alluded to the “growing accumulation of commercial astronaut missions” and stressed that SpaceX is “preparing” to be able to send up to 6 missions each year with the Dragon capsule.

To space, for charitable purposes

The mission, which is the subject of a series on the Netflix platform, has a beneficial component, since will serve as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, a campaign started by Isaacman himself with a donation of 100 million dollars and which he hopes to double with other contributions. After taking off from Cape Canaveral and spending three days in space, the Dragon capsule will cross Earth’s atmosphere to land off the coast of Florida.

SpaceX, founded by tycoon Elon Musk, will thus add another milestone in terms of space transport operated by private firms, after starting manned roundtrip flights from US soil to the ISS in 2020.

Boeing, the other company with a contract with NASA to transport astronauts to the ISS, had to suspend the second test mission of its Starliner capsule last month due to valve failures in its propulsion system.

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